Tag Archives: Reviews

New post ideas

I wanted to write a clever post on why I don’t update so often. It’s not like I don’t have time for my site, and it’s not like I’m not interested in jefflion.net anymore. And it’s not like I don’t have ideas: I have tons of ideas.

I just… Can’t. It happens to me when I’m depressed, or anxious, or when I worry. I become so fucking unproductive in those situations. I also suffer from insomnia. I can’t sleep at night. I just can’t.

But to make this post somewhat positive, here are some post ideas:

Race & yours truly (race blogs, racism, and what’s in it for me, because I’m white and I’m non-Westerner, so it’s not an issue that usually affects people in my part of the world. Unlike, you know, almost all the other issues you can think of).
Movie reviews (I love doing movie reviews, and I don’t even care if a movie is new or not. I’ve been planning on doing a review for In Bruges for so long, and there are also some new films I’m interested in: new Sherlock Holmes or Tin Tin, or just some little independent movie I watched and loved).
Stereotypes about Eastern Europeans (that are actually true).
Novel writing (How to and How Not To)
Vampires and the Balkans (and the way popular representations of vampires, based on stories about Dracula, were actually formed as cautionary tales about the wild Balkans, a dangerous region that can corrupt the West – yes, that’s right kids, there’s an ugly story behind this).

Anyway, this song always makes me feel better for some reason:

Mozart and the Whale

“People with Asperger’s want contact with other people very much; we’re just pathetically clueless at it, that’s all”. (Donald Morton)

Mozart and the Whale is a 2005 film directed by Petter Næss and starring Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchel. It’s based on a true story of two people with Asperger’s syndrome and their relationship.

Asperger’s syndrome is a form of a high-functional autism. It’s been somewhat popularized in media and pop culture in the last decade or so. Media image of the Asperger’s syndrome might easily lead to to the romanticisation or “othering” of people with Asperger’s. That’s why any film about characters with Asperger’s is dealing with a sensitive subject to say the least.

As a peace of art, Mozart and the Whale fails miserably. It’s a cross between a drama and a romantic comedy… and it doesn’t work that way. As if they tried their best to make this into a romantic comedy with quirky characters, but something went bad along the way. This is not just me: it’s been reported that there was some serious Executive Meddling, which resulted the director and the cast being quite unhappy with the final version. We can only hope to see the director’s cut.

Still, there are some excellent, brilliant things in Mozart and the Whale, which make you want to see the director’s cut even more badly. The characters are romanticized to an extend, but in a way, they are quite real, especially Donald Morton, an educated man with talent for numbers who works as a cab driver (it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find – and keep – a better paying job, and in first minutes of the film we learn it’s difficult for him to keep any job, period). He shares his apartment with 6 Cockatiel parrot. The flat is unkempt to say the least, because he never throws anything away, and moving things or cleaning the house makes him anxious. The finds comfort in numbers (to the exaggerated “magic ability” to instantly multiply and divide huge numbers).

He runs a small help-group for people with various mental conditions, and Isabelle is the new member. She has Asperger’s, too, but she is quite different than the shy, introverted Donald. She is loud, has obnoxious laugh, says inappropriate things (often involving sex) and can’t stand the sound of clinking metal.

So, they meet and their “getting to know each other” scenes provide most of the emotion in the film. After that, the film feels quite rushed (the film is too short to adequately portray the whole story arc: them moving in together, finding a decent job for Donald, their difficulties and fights, accepting each other – and themselves – the way they are). But there are so many sweet scenes that can be watched over and over again, so Mozart and the Whale is not a waste of time.

The best aspect of the film is, believe it or not, Josh Hartnett as Donald Morton. What he did with the character is unbelievable. It would be seen as a great performance for anybody, but for a pretty boy that didn’t seem more talented than Keanu Reeves on a bad day, it’s quite unbelievable. Josh Hartnett’s performance is far away from being perfect in technical sense, and it seems to be played on instinct more than careful preparation.

But it’s obvious he put a significant effort and dedication into this role, like no other before. Maybe the role just suited him, but he was so good you forget it’s him and it makes it seem you’re watching someone else… Or, in my case, that you’re watching yourself. There are as many ways Asperger’s syndrome can manifest itself as there are people with Asperger’s, but I could sure relate to this one (even though I don’t have the syndrome in strict sense of the word).

Sadly, the aforementioned executive meddling made Josh Hartnett refuse to promote the movie, which is a shame, because it’s worth a watch, and it’s a film in which he finally proves he’s not just a talentless heart throb, and that he can actually act. And be convincing. And everything that acting truly is.

I definitely recommend Mozart and the Whale, but I am not sure who’d love this film. Many people with Asperger’s seem to like it. But other than that, this isn’t light enough to be a romantic comedy, and is not too well structured to be taken seriously as a drama. So it makes Mozart and the Whale somewhat unfitting for anybody. But there are still good elements, great elements, so I truly recommend this movie. I know it made me feel good and it made me re-watch it, and it made me appreciate Josh Hartnett as an actor. And that’s not an easy thing to do.

Links:

Mozart and the Whale on IMDb
Review at WrongPlanet (online resource and community for Autism and Asperger’s)

The Best Movies of the Decade (Part II)

The top five. Somewhat easier to choose, but equally difficult to put in order. Except for the number one.

So far, we have:

10. Intermission (2003)
9. Children of Men (2006)
8. Atonement (2007)
7. 28 Days Later (2002)
6. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

The Best Movies of the Decade (Part I)

5. Gosford Park (2001)

It is, arguably, one of the best Altman films, and certainly my favourite. To say I liked the directing, the ensemble cast, the camera work, would be a waste of time, because these things go without saying. But there’s more to Gosford Park than the technical perfection, and those are the characters: every single one of them. And the story; it really makes you think about the fall of the high class back in those days.
Personal story: There isn’t a particularly personal story about this, except the fact I loved the way story unfolded. What secured this film in the top 5 was Helen Mirren in one of her last scenes (“my boy, my boy”). I remember watching the movie at night, and I had to jump and sit on my bed while watching it. One of those perfect, unique movie moments.

4. Breakfast on Pluto (2005)

This film is horribly underrated, and it’s a crime. I really don’t understand why: it’s simply amazing. I guess some people thought the world didn’t need another Neil Jordan’s story about IRA and transvestites. What a shame; Breakfast on Pluto is a gem. And the true heart of the movie is Kitten. She is such a lovable, amazing, complex character. Her world is unique, and so is her story. She’s one of those characters who simply make a story interesting, and also make you want to hug her and protect her.
Personal story: I got really attached to Kitten, and not just because I think she was an interesting character. To me, she was real. She reminds me a lot on my grandmother (not the part about transvestites, but the way a person deals with the problems). She had the same obsessively optimistic view of the world, as a way of surviving the reality. She was sometimes over the top, and it was often both tiring and annoying, but it’s not like I don’t understand how it happened. So it’s easy for me to understand Kitten.

3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

This movie is haunting and wonderful on so many levels. Too bad it suffers from some hype backlash. Ok, maybe it wasn’t the best film in cinematic history as some people claimed, but hey, I do find it to be excellent. It was sure a great cinematic experience for me. And I’m one of those people who dislike films dealing with male/female relationships. But this one took an unique approach to it, or managed to film it an an intriguing way. This film just takes you, and once you realize what’s going on, you are fascinated. Definitely one of the best movies of the decade.
Personal story: I remember watching this movie with my husband in 2005. It was winter and I felt really strange, everything around (the streets, the buildings) seemed so strange when we walked out. I like when a movie makes me think about it long after the credits.

2. All or Nothing (2002)

Mike Leigh is probably my favourite director. I like everything this man ever filmed. His movies are like no other. And while he had some strong movies this decade (Vera Drake, for example), All or Nothing is the one that had the most profound effect on me. Arguably, it’s not one of his best works, and in a way, it offers nothing new; and still, it’s perfect, perfect.

The story is simple (yet full of complexities), and the acting is superb. There’s no such thing as bad acting in any Mike Leigh’s films, but I really loved performances in this one. This especially goes for Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville. I think I’d say Lesley’s performance was one of the best female performances of the decade. The woman is such an amazing actress, one of the best I’ve seen, and she was so good in this. Such an underrated movie and an underrated performance. It’s a shame. The film is not an easy watch (it’s Mike Leigh after all), but it’s so good.
Personal story: Like I said, Mike Leigh. I love this man’s work. I love the way he deals with serious, difficult subjects, and still finds hope. Almost all of his films have this note at the end, something that gives you hope. All or Nothing is not an exception. It made me feel good, and I am still not sure how, given the serious nature of the film. That’s filmmaking.

1. Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)

Where do I start? How do I start? My love for this film is profound, and I don’t care about the hype, or the hype backlash. It’s one of my favourite movies, and the fact it’s a really good film is just one of the reasons. I like everything about it, its tone, its quirkiness, its characters, its atmosphere, its story. Everything.
Personal story: Like I said, I love everything about this film. But it’s my favourite movie of the decade because it gave me hope when I was so lonely, and it was something I really needed at the time.

Hate emails I get

My blog is not a popular one, and not many people know about this website. So I don’t have much of a reason to complain about hate emails and comments, or even spam.

But I do get some hate emails from time to time, and I notice they are either about song or a movie I “trashed” or about race/interracial relationships.

This is a bit confusing, because I don’t remember trashing many songs, films or novels apart from “Twilight”- and nobody complained about that. Even people who like “Twilight” like Twilight spittings, or at least don’t complain about them.

But I got one angry email concerning my not-so-favorable review of Avatar, and some people complained about my reviews of other movies, albums and novels- even if I stated I liked them. That’s right. An angry Pearl Jam fan, for example, advised me to “get back to Britney Spears” if I “can’t stand Eddie Vedder and his band”, despite the fact a) Pearl Jam is one of my favourite bands b) I like Eddie’s voice, lyrics and songs, c) it’s not really “his” band- it’s disrespectful to call it like that.

Also, some people thought I had problem with Toni Morrison (even though I said she’s one of my favourite authors), or “House M.D.” series (because I “dislike British actors (wtf?!?) or white women/black men interracial relationships”).

Which brings us to another issue: race. Race is often an issue, but the thing is, I don’t write about it. I simply don’t know much about race dynamics or have any experience with it to write about it. I did state my opinions here and there, but I never wrote about it. Yet, there are people who think I’m “siding with the enemy” (whatever that means), who think I should mind my own business, those who dislike my support for interracial relationships (or those who are angry because they think I’m against interracial relationships), and, most often, those who believe nobody should write about racism because it’s a no-issue anymore.

What is interesting about hate mail of this sort is that these people often get my gender and race wrong (which makes any of their arguments pointless), but they also often remind me I should STFU because I have no experience with race relations (well guess what- I don’t blog about it!) So I guess it has a lot to do with my involvement on other blogs that deal with race relations and racism.

What is interesting to note here is that these trolls are different than people you regularly meet online, so I guess they make a small percentage of Internet users. Still, I don’t understand why they bother, or how they (like those who think I’m trashing movies I actually like) always manage to miss the point. Completely.

Another interesting thing about authors of angry mails is that they often use contact form or find my email address without a problem, while my other visitors ignore them and post comments instead. Haters rarely comment (not that I complain), and general visitors don’t use contact form or emails. So I do find that interesting.

New Twilight book: April Fools joke?

Please, tell me this is an early April Fools joke!

“Before “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” hits theaters on June 30, “Twilight” fans will be treated to a new glimpse into author Stephenie Meyer’s vampire universe.

On June 5, the 36-year-old multimillionaire author will release “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner,” a novella that takes place concurrently with the events in the third “Twilight” book, “Eclipse.”

Source: Stephenie Meyer’s New ‘Twilight’ Book

WTF?!?!

Shit! Fuck! Crap! Shit!

Ok, now let me rephrase that: What the fuck is this woman doing? Why don’t people stop her?!? This is insane. I mean: insane. There are so many talented writers who actually spend time researching, writing, trying to find a published, struggling, caring, trying to do their best (for example: me :D), and this talentless… individual recycles her wet dream cash cow novel over and over and over again. And people are actually interested in this?

Please, tell me it’s an April Fools joke.

Related:
“Eclipse”: The logic behind a boring mess
“New Moon” movie: Not worth the LULZ
25 things I learned reading “Twilight”
… and other “Twilight” spittings.